Onset X flatbeds gain Dual Flex robotics

Fujifilm and Inca Digital have added new robotic systems to its existing automated loading and unloading options to the Onset X HS large format flatbed printer, which is built by Inca Digital but sold by Fujifilm. 

Inca Digital offers this ‘High five” fully automated robotic loading and unloading systems for its Onset HS flatbeds.

The companies first demonstrated the use of robotic arms for loading and unloading substrates on the Onset flatbeds back at the Fespa 2018 show. Since then Inca Digital has worked to integrate more robotic options on the basis that there’s only so much speed that can be squeezed out of the printer and most of the productivity gains will now come from speeding up the materials handling around the printing. This is particularly true with a large and expensive flatbed like the Onset, which is only earning its keep when actually printing, so anything that can be done to get the materials on and off the printer quicker will increase the printed throughput. 

Thus Inca Digital has now developed a fully automatic Dual Flex option which uses two robotic arms. Up to now, customers have had a choice of using Hostert AutoLoaders and AutoUnloaders or a combination of an AutoLoader plus an ABB robotic arm, with the robot being particularly suitable for corrugated boards.

But the Dual Flex option uses two robotic arms for completely automated loading and unloading, able to handle flexible, semi-rigid and rigid sheets, even with relatively high pile heights. Both robotic arms have six axis, rather than the five axis of earlier options, which allows for an extra party trick, called High five, where the robots can flip the boards over to allow for double-sided printing. 

Matt Brooks, head of Products & Solutions at Inca Digital says that this followed close collaboration with current Onset X customers, adding: “Longer run, full automation is becoming more and more common, and with the introduction of highly sophisticated robotic arms from ABB and Inca’s uniquely designed sheet pick-up technology, our Onset X customers can now produce extremely high volume, high quality print work in even less time. The ultra-high productivity and rapid job changeovers optimise production levels like never before.”

Pete Shaw, Production director for ImageData, in front of an Onset X3 with the dual robotic High Flex automated loading and unloading system.

The first of those customers is ImageData, a wide format printer from East Yorkshire in the UK. The company already has two Onset X3 presses and has now installed an X3 HS complete with the Dual Flex robotic system. Production Director Pete Shaw explains: “The automated capability of the Onset X3 HS Dual Flex is a game changer. The ‘High 5’ mode uses dual robots, so it can pick up the substrate, put it on the bed for printing, then pick it up and turn it over, and replace on the bed ready to print the reverse side – no human intervention is required, unlike our other machines where operators are required  to flip substrates over.  We’re mainly using this new press  for rigid substrate production for the retail sector, keeping the other Onset X3 presses predominantly on paper-based substrates.”

He adds: “The Onset X3 HS Dual Flex isn’t just helping us to produce work faster – it gives us another dimension to the way we run our business. The turnaround times are greatly reduced, not just because of the speed of the machine, but the fact that we no longer need to mask the bed is also a huge time saver in terms of overall turnaround – this feature can facilitate a job to job changeover time of just 30 seconds, which is highly impressive.”

You can find further details on the Onset range and the loading options from  both incadigital.com and Fujifilm.eu. As it happens, I’ve written a longer story on automated loading and unloading systems for wide format printers which you can find on the Fespa website

…with a little help from my friends

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